International Connectivity and the Law of the Sea Workshop for ASEAN Member States and ASEAN Secretariat

The Foundation, in cooperation with ASEAN, delivered its second workshop for ASEAN nominees online

Following the successes of the first workshop, the Foundation held the second workshop for ASEAN from 18 to 22 of April 2022 on International Connectivity and the Law of the Sea. The workshop was opened with introductory remarks by Ina Lepel, the Ambassador of Germany to ASEAN, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste. Throughout the week, discussions on selected thematic issues were delivered during three live sessions to 20 participants nominated by ASEAN Member States and ASEAN Secretariat. The workshop is part of an ASEAN Cooperation Project, generously funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, the purpose of which is to strengthen maritime peace and security in Southeast Asia and promote regional cooperation on the law of the sea and related matters.

Given the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic still affects travelling and large gatherings in Southeast Asia, the workshop was conducted remotely. Participants were provided with three online Zoom sessions as well as pre-recordings videos and reading materials available on Foundation’s Legal Education and Research Network (LEARN) website, both before and after the live sessions.

The live session topic for the first day was the navigational rights of ships in international straits and archipelagic waters, as well as the jurisdiction of coastal states therein. Subsequently, an open discussion involved participants being provided with a hypothetical moot case. Participants could consider and negotiate several legitimate and legal ways to balance the coastal state’s concerns for environmental protection with the navigational entitlements of foreign ships in international straits.

Day two focused on the international law of the sea concerning the navigation of ‘exceptional’ vessels, such as warships and ships carrying nuclear and other inherently dangerous substances. During the roundtable activity participants analysed several anonymised pieces of national legislation from other regions concerning the navigational rights of foreign ships in different maritime zones. Participants analysed whether said practice was in conformity with the limits of UNCLOS.

The third day turned to the law of the sea concerning submarine cables, such as laying, repairing and protecting submarine cables. Discussions extended to other related internationally lawful uses of the sea, such as route surveys or the refuelling of cable ships. The rights and responsibilities for laying submarine cables within the different maritime zones of coastal states were addressed, as was the jurisdictional entitlements to adopt measures to protect submarine cables from intentional, negligent or unintentional damage. The workshop ended with a brief analysis on the newly released Judgment (21 April 2022) of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the “Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea” Case between Nicaragua and Colombia. This responsive on-the-spot session was added to the agenda in light of said Judgment touching upon many of the issues discussed during the first two days of the workshop.

This workshop provided an opportunity for participants from ASEAN countries to discuss relatively contentious issues related to the navigational rights of ships, the rights of laying and repairing submarine cables and the pertinent jurisdiction of coastal states in both cases. On the other hand, participants were also introduced to differing state practices around the world for further consideration. The Foundation looks forward to continued cooperation with ASEAN in delivering all aspects of the ASEAN Cooperation Project, which implements the Foundation’s project, entitled, Promoting Maritime Peace and Security in Southeast Asia.